Late Tuesday night, deserted London street, London Gold,
October blues, dense night feeling, vocalese on the radio,
jazz scat-singing trilling chirruping, counterdawn of dusk,
over the City, night will gently break, and a light caul of sleep, (night calls),
black cool, like a cloak, cover all, down on a young man’s cheek,
nachtmusik cuts to crooning sax solo then piano/guitar
trade riffs, swap solos, lights stranded in windows glow through the night,
eat into the dark by an acid of pale orange-yellow electric light
leaching into the night’s fallows, wash of pastel-pale, dissolving
shadows to shed them elsewhere more densely, outcasting a penumbra
of shifting lights, segues to strings, intro to the ballad, lush sheen
of string section, the junked lover in the song is singing
of how she’s staying up all night getting high on black coffee
and nicotine, hellhounded by whisky chasers around the rim
of a Guinness glass, switch to the catguts of Robert Johnson’s
liquor guitar wailing over his long-lost lady, black soul
crying over the Hackney nightime rooftops, with luna riding high
on skeins of black nightcloud, God’s nightlight, cut to radio 3 notturna
quiet London street, a radio, a lit window
Born 1962 in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England, the winter Sylvia Plath died. Began writing in 1973. Bits of his juvenilia survive in the magazines Sepia, Pennine Platform and Northern Line and in the pamphlet Chaos (Kawabata Press, 1979). Went up to Cambridge in 1980 to read English. Graduated with a First in 1983. Poems of his won prizes at University. In 1984 he lived in London, working as a literary journalist, reviewing for The Sunday Times and The London Magazine. 1985-6: Lived and wrote in Greece on Ministry of Education Scholarships, teaching English Literature occasionally. In 1986 he went to Oxford to write a doctorate on Beckett, which was awarded in 1991. Held a Research Fellowship there from 1991-93. On completion of this he became a full-time writer, teaching only occasionally. Many publications, including poems, essays and articles in magazines. Books include Peaceworks (The Many Press 1996), Requiem Tree (Spectacular Diseases, 2002), Thornsongs (Unarmed Chapbook, 2007), Love Enough (Pulsing Vulva, 2008), Openacity (Drunken Guru, 2009), Bread Bullion (five thousand mile paper mine, 2012), True Moral Loaves (five thousand mile paper mine, 2012). ‘Undercoming’ is a text/visual collaboration comprising the books Lightwriting (Gabbling Goblin,2007) and Happy Apples (Cuddly Shark, 2008) and an exhibition, ’Word of Eye’. Two collections – ‘Spit Bricks’ (1997-98) and ‘Idiot Scripts’ (1999-2005) – have appeared in their entirety as individual pieces in print magazines and online but remain unpublished as books. Other yet to be published books include ‘Defining Statements on an Autumn Afternoon’ (2011-13), ‘Dying For Friday’ (2014-15), ‘Letters to the Lost One’ (2015-16) and ‘Things to Say to Jilly’ (2017) . Recently completed projects are a short book, ‘Done For Love’ (2017-18) and a pamphlet, ‘As They Broached the Goldmine’ (2018). Both are as yet unpublished although sections of the latter title have appeared in the journal Tears in the Fence. Most recently completed projects are the pamphlets ‘Everyman’s Land’ and ‘Soldier’s Block’. Lives and works in North East London.
And so a playbill,
a box of kitchen matches
with blue heads and
a dry red rubber band
that parts at touch
from the belly of the box,
and a flat stone
similar to sea glass
that her child picked up
and stuck in her palm
more years ago than
she’s kept track. Junk
in a drawer she’s set
to empty, half-filled
She once knew the guy
who first appeared in Act I,
Scene I. He had a mustache,
freckles on his chest in summer
when they swam.
The photocopied playbill
of his last name
but not his eye-color,
not his voice.
for another hour and ten minutes
in the food court
in the hub-city airport
with the black and white
by the escalators
something he said to her once
It takes many, many years
to distill experience into prose.
Now there is vinegar
running down her right hand
from the overpriced submarine sandwich
chockfull, not of veggies
but of cheese and turkey,
now there is a recycled napkin—swipe-swipe.
But she carries its acidic scent
as perfume on the insides of her wrists
walking back with her carryon to Concourse C
with the vague memory of the place
where they bought the caramel apples
the practiced flick of the employee’s wrist
rolling each globed fruit on a stick in
a puddle of evenly-crushed pecans.
She’s tried many times to emulate
with a simple cutting board and knife;
no effort matches
what it was like, that first perfect bite.
Melanie Faith is a poet, fictionist, photographer, editor, tutor, and professor. Her writing has been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes. Melanie collects quotes, books, and twinkly costume-jewelry pins, and she enjoys spending time with her darling nieces. She holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. Her photography recently appeared in Harbor Review and The Moving Force Journal, and her poetry appeared in Verse of Silence. Get her artwork at WritePathProductions at Etsy. Her latest book, Photography for Writers, was published in Nov. 2019 (Vine Leaves Press) https://www.vineleavespress.com/photography-for-writers-bymelanie-faith.html . Learn about her latest projects at: https://www.melaniedfaith.com/blog/ and https://twitter.com/writer_faith .
You show yourself in the rumba of the oak leaves,
in the patriotic flip flap of the flag fastened
to its lowest branch, in the tritone of the wind chimes
out by the water’s edge. The distant mountains
form a kind of concert hall of storm sounds,
their acoustics a marvel of nature’s engineering,
making your operatic echo magnify itself
in thrilling arias. But then,
at storm’s end – silence. The moon twins
its spotlight on the water, mirroring
itself. You’ve gone quiet, invisible. Yet,
we know you will outlast us all. In our will
we bequeath you the universe.
Don’t forget your songs, whether or not
anyone is left to hear them.
Dear (New England) January
Thank God for you! How thrilling your certainty, your lack of sun, your icy sidewalks, your air dry dry dry on the skin the lips the eyes, your frosted anthills pancaking gray beneath our boots. The lean coyote’s getting leaner, slinking closer to the house. The mice sneak in behind the dryer where it’s nice and warm. The pipes will freeze if we don’t stroke them with the hairdryer. No one wants to take a walk and tempt the Devil of Black Ice. Doggie will have to make do with an open door.
Hooray for you, January! There is no greater hope than standing here, planted in the almost-dark of 4 o’clock. It was darker just two weeks ago, when your older sister dressed herself in Christmas sparklers, merry-making in tiny multi-colored stars. December. The big tease. Will you won’t you will you won’t you snow on Christmas eve? Bring the airports to their knees? Leave travelers sleeping on the floor surrounded by their desperate festive packages?
Dearest January. You rock ‘n roll our thermostats through February. The snowman’s carrot nose has come unhinged, slipsliding towards muddy March. The ice dams cometh. Finally, April. The bravest flowers poke themselves out of the ground. Birds rev up their manic songs in search of mates. Gardeners rake the dead-brown earth. The arborists swoop in, warning of the latest moth-infesting threat to oak, maple, birch…. More money. Also, however, grass. Green leaves. More light.
More light. Spring. Summer. We salute you Janus, two-headed God of portals. You know that, like the past, our future rests assured. It’s enough to make a bully weep with gratitude.
Marian Kaplun Shapiro
Marian Kaplun Shapiro, a previous contributor, is the author of a professional book, Second Childhood (Norton, 1988), a poetry book, Players In The Dream, Dreamers In The Play (Plain View Press, 2007) and two chapbooks: Your Third Wish, (Finishing Line, 2007); and The End Of The World, Announced On Wednesday (Pudding House, 2007). A Quaker and a psychologist, her poetry often embeds the topics of peace and violence by addressing one within the context of the other. A resident of Lexington, she is a five-time Senior Poet Laureate of Massachusetts. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2012.